If you pick up this Sunday's print edition of The New York Times and thumb through it, you'll find that it features a couple full-page print ads from American Express that show the brand's support for gay marriage. It's no coincidence that the brand is rolling the ads out on Sunday, June 26, since that's the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage.
The ads commemorating the decision, from Ogilvy & Mather in New York, are part of a larger Pride campaign from American Express. The effort, #ExpressLove, comes from the creative shop as well as the company's employee Pride network, Mindshare, Day One Agency, Alldayeveryday, Paper Magazine and The Infatuation and encourages consumers to share how they, well, express love everyday.
"We really wanted to focus on the everyday moments of love that are expressed by our card members and really highlight those and make those feel special and just as important as one day," said Brad Minor, head of global brand partnerships and experiential for American Express. "We came up with this program, #ExpressLove, and this notion of sharing our card members' stories, our merchants' stories of how they've expressed love over the past year and how they've continued to do so."
The couples featured in the print work (see below) are real American Express card members that submitted to a casting call, according to Minor. The photos featured are also real photos that the couples' already had and submitted to appear in the work. "We didn't go out and create new photos for them because we really wanted to make sure it captured who they are and who they were this past year," said Minor.
The print work is the "first time we've done a big ad related to our work supporting the LGBT community," said Minor. "It's a bit of a clever play with the first wedding anniversary. Traditionally that gift is paper so we wanted to do a New York Times hard copy print issue and do multiple ads there as well as with Paper Magazine."
Minor added: "The campaign is authentic to who we are but it's also a big statement for us to do an ad in the New York Times on this anniversary date … What's so great about the campaign and the ad itself, [is that] it takes that notion of membership that we're known for and really turns it into community and inclusion and that you're part of something bigger and special."
American Express will feature more couples and executions of the work on its social media channels. The larger #ExpressLove campaign, which runs until November, will be in 11 markets including New York, San Diego, Chicago, Provincetown, Mass., Austin, Texas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Calif., Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle.
As part of the campaign the company is creating a visual activation that will be up during New York's Pride week. Located in lower Manhattan at Brookfield Plaza, the installation will be a large acrylic 3-D block of letters that says "Love Wins."
The company will also be supporting local nonprofits that champion the LGBTQ community and participate in local Pride parades and events as part of the effort. It will also encourage its card members to shop at small businesses during Pride, using the tagline "Shop Small. Shop Proud."
"Right now for us and for everyone we have to remind ourselves that it's our responsibility to articulate our stance on social causes and contribute to the greater conversation that's happening," said Minor. "There's a power in numbers, there's a power in showing up, there's a power in presence and so we wanted to do our part to be part of that conversation supporting our community."